Chronic Redeye are a Norwich based crew formed out of a Reggae soundsystem by core members DJ Redeye and MC Chronic. They currently have their Knowledge Is King release out now and read on to find out about the crew from when they formed right up to date in this comprehensive interview with Certified Banger...
Certified Banger: Yo! Tell us a bit about yourselves. Who are you? What’s your history as a group? What’s your individual history? What releases have you had?
Chronic Redeye: Yo! Chronic Redeye is the crew name which originally comes from the combination of DJ Chronic and emcee Redeye, but it‘s grown over time to include singer Littleface, DJ Scotty and human beatbox Crez One, plus we always roll with emcees Franko Fraize and Lyrical T.
DJ Chronic was originally part of DestaNation reggae sound system and we met through going to Exodus dances in Luton. Over time we started rolling in the same crew involved in warehouse parties and free festivals. A lot of the crew we were moving with at the time were squatting big disused buildings and turning it into a living space for loads of the fam where there would be after party sessions and a real basic recording set up. That’s where the first hip hop sessions as Chronic Redeye took place, in 2003. It was hectic up in there, I remember trying to get a tune done when the crew where putting on a rave that night and there was so many people passing through they’d all be jammed in the hallway we couldn’t contain the noise we’d just have to record with it all going on in the background!
Our first release was the ‘Seein Red’ CD album in 2005, then we put out a 4 track vinyl EP called ‘FreeUpThaSound’. Next was ‘The All Or Nothing Days’ CD album in 2006 and we have just dropped our new CD ‘Knowledge Is King’.
Certified Banger: Where are you from? Can you tell us a bit more about the Hip Hop scene there?
Chronic Redeye: DJ Chronic is from Oxford and the rest of us are from around the Norwich area, East Anglia. EA bang bang! Franko Fraize and Lyrical T rep Thetford which is 20 minutes down the road from Norwich.
Hip hop is alive and well in our area! We’ve got nights like Roots N Culture putting on stage shows with the biggest artists alongside local talent, plus we’ve got underground sound systems like Concrete Roots that aren’t afraid to pump out the hardcore hip hop. Our area is also full of artists, from battle rappers to hip hop bands so we’re doing our thing.
There are people that moan about a lack of a scene, but they’re usually the fassies that stay at home arguing on the internet while everyone else is up in the party.
Certified Banger: Redeye, you’ve got a quite a different voice to most rappers. How important is that in making your music sound unique?
Chronic Redeye: It’s been an advantage that my voice comes across as different, but it’s not something I’ve worked at. I just rhyme how I talk, but it has helped make the tracks stand out as unique and everyone knows when I’m kicking a verse so it’s all good!
Certified Banger: What are your current or upcoming projects? i.e. albums, singles, tours, guest spots…
Chronic Redeye: Upcoming projects from our crew include a Franko Fraize album ‘Heart On My Sleeve’, a Lyrical T album called ‘How We Livin’, a compilation called Ruffneck Intellect Vol 1 featuring freestyles and exclusives from all of our crew and loads of other rugged hip hop artists, and there is a collaboration album between Redeye and producer Al Royal called D&A - The Codes. Al Royal is one of the original Norwich jungle dons but we are going back to his hip hop roots with a new twist so watch out for that.
Certified Banger: The production on ‘Knowledge is King’ is quite sparse sounding. What’s the reasoning behind that?
Chronic Redeye: We’re on that rugged tip and love it when an MC is just catching wreck on some ill stripped down loop. There’s ‘nuff people out there making that over- produced, syrupy shit and there’s a place for that, but we’re taking it back to the gully with our beats.
Certified Banger: How would you describe your sound? Is there any one track that would best define your style?
Chronic Redeye: ‘Tales From da Weedspot’ is a track that defines our style, Chronic has chopped up a random old sample and made it sound sinister over some big drums and I’m kicking a story about something that happens all too often round ‘ere - mans getting their weed crop nicked.
Certified Banger: Who have been your biggest musical influences and which Hip Hop artists have inspired you? Which are your favourite albums? What music were you brought up on?
Chronic Redeye: Wu Tang have to be mentioned as a big musical influence, the ruggedness of 36 Chambers blew everything else away when it dropped and that sound is still something we aspire to years later. Other favourite albums include Smif N Wessun - Dah Shinin, Mobb Deep - The Infamous, Shyheim - The Lost Generation, Gunshot - Twilight’s Last Gleaming and Skinnyman - Council Estate Of Mind.
We were brought up on all sorts from the Rolling Stones to Tracey Chapman to The Wailers, and in the early nineties we were definitely caught up in the rave explosion and birth of jungle. Chrome and the Def Tex crew also deserve a mention as inspiration, they paved the way in our area for that real hip hop and if it wasn’t for them a lot of the best jams we’ve had over the years wouldn’t have happened.
Certified Banger: The other week in Leeds we had the BPP (British People’s Party) demonstrating against the sale of Ice Cube’s ‘Death Certificate’ album because they say it is racist against white people. What are your views on freedom of speech and Hip Hop?
Chronic Redeye: Haha didn’t anyone tell them that album has been out for years anyway, lol, they could have at least protested about his new one, helped his sales a bit! Fuck censorship, we defend freedom of speech 100%. You’ve just got to remember that with freedom comes responsibility.
Certified Banger: If you don’t mind talking about it, what are your views on race and Hip Hop? Redeye, how well are you received as a white MC in the sound system culture? Are there still race barriers in Hip Hop?
Chronic Redeye: I gotta say I’ve never experienced race barriers, I don’t know whether that’s testament to the sound systems we roll with or the times in general. As a white dread you’d have thought that I might receive friction but when most Rastaman come to check out what we’re about the vibes are good and we build a spliff n have a little reasoning session! No one should be trying to get away from the fact that this is black music but as long as mans are moving humble and keeping it true then let the music speak for itself.
Certified Banger: The album features Franko Fraize and Lyrical T quite heavily, how do they fit into your ethos, sound and general set up?
Chronic Redeye: That’s extended family right there. It’s been a natural progression how they got down, doing more shows and spending time building in the lab and just kicking it blowing trees. They both study their craft and know their shit so they were on that path anyway but our paths crossed and it’s just clicked into place without trying. We’ve all got quite different styles but put ‘em all on a track together and its burial time.
Certified Banger: Something I’ve been thinking about recently is the self-sufficiency of the UK scene. Now I know people don’t make a whole lot of money, they do it for the love and I see documentaries on people like Yungun who is a lawyer during working hours. What’s your view on how UK Hip Hop is funded and why the MC’s and producers do it? Do you work day jobs? How does that fit into the ‘Hip Hop’ lifestyle?
Chronic Redeye: It’s definitely a labour of love but I think there’s some change to be made if you do it right, spreading your wings and being more than just a rapper or a producer you could be doing graphic designs or promoting events. But having said that, it’s still mad difficult to earn any decent money legally in this country, let alone in this UK hip hop business. But people still work at it cos hip hop is like the fire inside that keeps you going, and giving up on that is like admitting you’ve given up on everything and you’re just gonna stay at home and watch telly and let your mind rot! We have to work day jobs in some capacity but it’s a case of working to live and not living to work. I spend most of my working days with my head in a rhyme book blowing bongs out of the window. Good job I’m not a bus driver.
Certified Banger: What’s next for Chronic Redeye? Will you be experimenting with new sounds? Pushing things further? Exploring new concepts? Or just perfecting what you already do?
Chronic Redeye: We’re just gonna carry on putting our lives down on the track, we don’t really have to set out to explore concepts they just evolve from writing about what we see on the daily. It’s all about keeping the skills sharp though, every time our crew gets into a cipher someone is pushing the bar higher so things are constantly progressing lyrically. We’re always gonna make that gully boom bap hip hop but Chronic has started experimenting with some some nasty dubstep sounds and we’ve started having a section of our live show spitting over dubstep, so things are always evolving naturally. Word to the mums!